Baby food myth #1: Babies do not like flavour.
Somewhere along the line this myth was born. This is completely untrue! Babies LOVE flavour!
Rice, cereals, plain pasta and porridge have become go to first foods perhaps because they are filling, simple and easy to prepare but they are also overwhelmingly bland. What happened to providing a wide variety of flavourful foods that we ourselves would enjoy? I see this as one of the roads to fussy eaters.
Of course, children have refused their greens long before the invention of fortified baby cereals, but fussiness is now reaching new heights where you can count the foods some children will eat on one hand. Today many parents have become short-order cooks to cater for their children's limited palate. In some instances, these children may have genuine sensory issues, but many just don’t like different flavours and I can almost guarantee they were not fed a variety of flavourful foods in the early years.
Baby food myth #2: Avoid salt.
Typical table salt has been refined and stripped of about 80 odd essential minerals, these are needed to buffer the potent effects of straight sodium chloride which is harsh on a baby’s kidneys. So ditch that one. But unrefined sea salt is vital to our diets for adults, children and babies alike.
Some of the key uses of sodium in a baby are detoxification, metabolism, hormone, nervous system and immune function and moving nutrients from one part of the body to another. Plus chloride is vital for the formation of neuroglial cells, which have many functions including assisting the healing phase and in some cases preventing neural injury.
Whilst this relates to adults, a 2011 study which used a sample size of 28,000 people, found that the optimum intake of sodium to reduce the risks of cardiovascular disease is between 3000mg and 5990mg per day. That is a lot more than the current guidelines of 2300mg per day. Consuming more than 7000mg per day is placing you into the risk zone for strokes and heart attacks, but so is consuming less than 3000mg. The Japanese, with one of the lowest rates of cardiovascular disease in the world, average around 4650mg per day. There are many studies that are showing that our current stance on sodium is out of date and is, in fact, dangerous. Food for thought huh?
Along with adding a bit of unrefined sea salt to your babe's diet, dress it up with some herbs and spices. You may be surprised to find that your baby or toddler even likes a bit of chilli. Some of Bowie’s favourite foods are full flavoured. From 6 months old she was happily eating kalamata olives, feta cheese, bitter greens with lemon or balsamic, Thai red curry, spicy Mexican beef, fish roe, garlic and chilli bolognese sauce. I could go on and on. As crazy as it sounds she also adores coffee beans now if, and only if, by chance one flies out of the grinder and she is lucky enough to get to it first and crunch it down with a mmmm.
Giving your child flavourful meals is the biggest step you can take to introduce them to real food. We all want our children to leave home with sound knowledge of what foods make their body and mind feel good, to show them that these foods taste incredible and are not just “good” for us. So if you want your child to have a keen palate start by making all their meals taste like the best meal on earth from day dot. If your baby is breastfed then they are already on their way to flavourville as a mother’s milk tastes of whatever it is she has been eating. For formula fed babies it may take a little more time to adjust the palate but it can most certainly be done.
Enjoy real food!